Sidor som bilder

are you

improper things are by us exposed to their view to tempt their desires. For instance, a child has been confined perhaps an hour, whilst the mother or attendant has been occupied in her several ways. The little creature, with an ardent curiosity, has in vain looked right and left for some object to work upon : he begins to fret and to pine. The mother is roused; " What is the matter, my love?" she says, tired ? Come to me, I will seat you in your chair by this table, but mind, you must not touch any thing; look only at the pretty show." The child, which could see nothing whilst standing on the ground, is suddenly elevated to a dazzling display; and the mother, thinking that all is settled, continues her employment of a book, needle, writing, accounts, or domestic regulations. Now a child, an aetive child, is soon tired with looking on, and is it not right that he should be so ? For what use are two arms, two hands, and ten fingers ? Are these really unnecessary appendages to a child's body? Are such considerable branches of the trunk to be unemployed and motionless--these limbs, which extended, give the whole length of the frame, and which by their facility of movement seem intended for strong action, for play upon the vital system, and as a quickener to the current of life ?--No; these limbs were given for vigorous exertion, and the child feels the impulse. "Look at this thing; amuse yourself with it, but do not touch, even desire to touch it,” says the parent. But how can she expect to be obeyed, when she is shifting from her own self the duty of giving proper attention and care to her child ? Does she



not perceive that she is breaking through duty to enforce duty ? and who will advocate for success by these means? It is good to teach children forbearance and submission; but not through our own carelessness and indolence. There are thousands of objects which we do not cruelly and deliberately put in child's


and which yet must be prohibited : but whenever they unavoidably are so, we should make it clearly appear why we deny. The child, not being accustomed to « don't touch this;" “ you must not do that ;' " let this alone ;" “ don't go there ;"

give me that-how durst you touch, when I desired you only to look ;" “ you are a naughty child for not doing as you are bidden,”-with many more such exclamations, hastily, incautiously, and sometimes angrily made,-a child unaccustomed to such innumerable orders is inclined to pay attention; to listen to a prohibition when he hears it, as to an unusual sound. Nothing having ever been placed seemingly on purpose before him to tantalize and tempt him to transgress, he feels that the language of opposition, calmly and steadily delivered, is in some manner the language of truth and reason, and he is by degrees convinced that rebellion would be vain. When once a child has been denied any thing upon fair and just grounds, no force or argument should ntake us retract one single word, or yield even to the breadth and value of an atom in mitigation. It is easier to wrest a mountain from its bed and plant it in another ; it is easier to stand on the shore and push back the swelling tide with an effort of the foot; it is less difficult to call down. black clouds, and bid them stand for ever con

first years

densed between us and the sun, than it is to call back the power and authority of mind over mind, when once the uniting spell is broken. The turbulence of passions, the impetuosity of nature, the instinctive disdain of and repugnance to controul, all break upon the mind in a flash of light when the charm dissolves, and leave the victim exposed to a labyrinth of conjecture, of frailty, and of error. Thus water, by the loosening of one pin in its dam, bursts forth, spreads far and wide, and rushing, finds its own level, but as it flows destroys.

But, say some, are we always to give a reason to children for denying or opposing them ?. In the very

of existence, I conceive we are. We stand accountable to children for all our proceedings with them. They are human beings given in trust to their parents. If they were not merely in trust, the parents would have unlimited power over the life and death, and this, Christianity forbids. The parent, then, who condescends to offer reasons to his child, for his opposition and treatment of him, may be sure of one thing, that he really has reasons; and this is a very important matter. He may by his firmness excite his child's momentary resentment, but he gains his respect and his confidence, which is another great matter. And, finally, from the hold which temperate, wise, steady conduct has taken in the child's heart and mind, he so loves and respects his father's judgment, and is so persuaded of his wisdom and discretion, that in time he will obey a command as it is given, and be satisfied whether or not a reason be expressed. And when the youth expands, and that

he looks to his parents for their blessing ere he takes a place in society, he has a right to expect them to say, if they have never done so before, “ We have thwarted you on such occasions ; we bave opposed you at such times; we have denied you such things; but such and such were our views. Judge, child of our affections and our hopes, whether we have acted ill or well by you ; and cherish or despise us in our old age as we deserve at your hands!"

Is this too much from one human crcature to another? Is there a wise and tender father, a judicious and attentive mother, who would refuse to make the experiment? Is there a well educated, a good prin, cipled young man, on the eve of setting out in his profession, or a virtuous and amiable maiden on the point of marriage, who would love her venerable guides the less for such an inquiry? No. Şuch as these are secure. It is the indolent, careless, capricious mother, who has neglected her offspring, or governed them without being able to account to herself for her own actions, much less to suit reasons to young capacity, it is she who dares not tell her children to respect her as she deserves. Conscience whispers that the experiment is dangerous, and it is not made.

So far extends the influence of judgment in very early education. We now pass to discrimination, which is also necessary for the regulation of infant passiops.



FROM what has been advanced, it must be seen that the mother who gives a reason, however short it be, for every opposition to her child's will, will not find it convenient to oppose too often; and this is the very point I wish to establish. If a parent is watchful and careful to prevent error and temptation, there wil} seldom be occasion for the exercise of her authority to draw off the child from either. The charge is weighty, but how much trouble and anxiety does it save. Which is the pleasanter? to make great exertions during four or five years, and afterwards have no necessity for so doing, as habit will be fixed and every day assisting us, or to pay little or no attention to the first years of infancy, and in consequence, to be vexed day after day with the destruction of our work, and on beholding, at the expiration of fifteen or twenty years, all unfinished, imperfect, erroneous, and bad ? Whether is best, to labour hard for a deep foundation, and see our building rise firm and secure on its base, or to scrape aside a small indenture, and behold our work crumbling in every breath, so that we are always repairing, yet scarcely advance ? Or, in the planting of a tree, is it well to prepare no bed for it ? how then shall it stand? If we take the trouble to dig deep,

« FöregåendeFortsätt »